Pandita Parameswara Sastry Veelunama (1962) enjoys the distinction of being the first Telugu novel to have won the Sahitya Akademi Award. It captivates the reader with its narrative technique of an omniscient narrator, multiple voices, letters and even diary entries. The book brings out the debate on the use of the grandhik and the vyavaharik varieties of languages that took place in the early part of the twentieth century. It also deals with themes like tradition and modernity, the Sanskritic tradition and the influence of the West, the Orientalist and the Anglicist discourse. It is a novel that represents a journey of ideas from the material to the metaphysical. It puts to debate different systems of philosophical thought such as Marxism and Aurobindo’s philosophy.
Tripuraneni Gopichand (1910-1962) is a short story writer and novelist. To label Gopichand would be a difficult task for he was influenced by such thinkers like Marx, M.N. Roy, Aurobindo, Freud, Adler and Jung. One could say he strove to bridge the materialist and spiritual outlooks of life and thereby propose a new humanism. His well-known works include Asamarthuni Jeevayatra (a novel in the stream of consciousness mode), Tattvavettalu (a two volume collection of essays about philosophers from the East and West). Postucheyyani Uttaralu (collection of essays) and Pandita Parameswara Sastry Veelunama. Gopichand also worked for the films as a writer and director.
Many intellectuals are going round and round in circles. They are going around like a boy getting on to a horse on a merry-go-round. They perhaps have the joy of getting on to a horse, the joy of travelling very fast. But isn't it true that the faster you go round, the faster you come back to the place you start from?
The well-known mathematician and philosopher, A. N. Whitehead thinks that it is today's educational system that has ensured the creation of "specialists" that is responsible for this situation. He proposes that this system is bringing about a very dangerous situation.
As every intellectual decides to specialise in some field as his main objective, he may have acquaintance with other fields, but he is unable to acquire knowledge enough to have a holistic view. He gets entrenched in some view and keeps enunciating some principles. These principles create a circle. He is moving about in this circle. That discipline may progress because of him. But that progress will restrict itself to the circle he moves in. To move within a circle alone is to reiterate only one set of principles.
We have experienced such multiple circles in the field of literature and in other fields in our state. The circle within which one moves is the only truthful and permanent thing for him. For each one, except his own circle, the rest are all vicious circles. His alone is the wonderful circle.
Once upon a time, a man being entrenched in one view, holding on to one formula without letting it-go and being encircled by it till death used to be considered great. We cannot but hear a "great" man at some point in time say, "I won't change for the life of me," but Whitehead propounds that such a man, in today's situation, is bound to be extremely harmful to society.
Because intellectuals are encircled, they lack unified vision and coordinating strength. They are able to perceive only one kind of situation. They cannot perceive all kinds of situations. Then the power to coordinate all kinds of situations and lead the society falls on the second class or third class men. Because of this, mankind's progress is stunted. As if to add to this, these encircled intellectuals inflate the circles and try to disrupt even the little bit of unity. With that, the society comes to an end.
That is the present situation. This situation must change. The intellectuals must move beyond their limited spheres, must coordinate all spheres and all situations and must gamer enough strength to aid its progress. The mind has no such power. For this, man must reach the stages above the mind.
The objective of this novel is to talk about this need.
This is the era of democracy. Democracy does not mean it is for the majority in power to rule for its own benefit and against the minority. Democracy must ensure that justice is done to every person under its purview. This will not happen by becoming narrow minded in an attempt to protect a particular view or by entering into a battle with the opponents. It is possible only through discussion and debate. I am not suggesting a situation after discussion wherein arguments increase, anger bursts out and each turns his face away. Each one must listen to the other's argument with sympathy. Each one must give a little leeway. Each one must try to accommodate the other. Each one must give a little space for the other in one's worldview. Only when each person functions in this manner, will democracy succeed. I think that the democratic mode is the basis for the birth of a man capable of viewing the entire world within himself. For this ideal, a man entrenched in his own views is dangerous.
A. N. Whitehead says that to reduce life to a formula is another danger. Life does not fit into a formula. Moreover, life changes every second. A formula does not change. The man who depends on a formula does not take the changes that occur in life into consideration. Does not notice them at all. He throws far away under some pretext those parts of his life which do not fit into his formula. Self-consumed, he turns into a fanatic. With endless effort, he increases his opponents and finally remains all alone. He takes on the form of a mound to stand against the swelling current. He may think he is retaining his individuality. He may also think he is higher than the flow of current. Unable to fit into the society he may formulate the principle that the quality of a great man rests in his facing difficulties. But who will believe these words? Who will feel happy looking at his appearance that has become dry and hard? Who will not disappear at the hate tirade that he spews out in the form of sighs? If they do not disappear, will they not melt away? That is why A. N. Whitehead says that it is dangerous to make life formulaic.
We have been observing today's situation. Let alone the world, we are directly experiencing our country's situation. No matter where we look in our country, there are only circles. Each circle is struggling to gain rights for itself. It is trying to keep a region under its control. The impact arising out of the upsurge of circles has increased and the creation of the power to unify all these is weakening. The walk has become a limp. There is clear evidence of the danger of the objective being lost.
These circles are continuing in the guise of parties, associations and groups. Whatever be its name, a circle is a circle, like they say the price of the elephant is thousand rupees, alive or dead.
These people of the circles are more vengeful against those who were born and grew up in their circles but have moved away from them. They wreak their vengeance in many ways. This vengeance may aid the unity of people within the circle. But it is a fact that the more their unity grows the more society loses. The unity that is achieved through vengeance is like that achieved through massacre and death.
These are the days when such unity is being hardened. Therefore, it is all the more necessary to have people today who can disrupt such unity. The objective of this novel is to talk about this need.
Politically, the democratic mode points to the need of such people. It aids in the sustenance of such people. But it is not as if there is no danger in such a situation. It tags along progress. Danger too. This danger is of some circle that engulfs society becoming powerful, arising from authority, crushing other circles and attempting to force down its true culture over the entire society.
No person who himself is entwined in a circle can counter this danger. The person who can face this danger is one who can view all these circles together. To look at all the circles together does not mean bringing the characteristics of all the circles at one place and stitching them up like a patchwork quilt. This vision will be able to recognise the needs of all the circles. It can enthuse all the people in the circles. It can create a large-enough ideal to make everyone have a unified outlook. It can establish a new path.
The democratic mode is the basis for the birth of this new individual. This new individual is the basis for the superhuman creation.
The objective of this novel is to put forth this need. Science has given man no opportunity to stand still at one place like before and carryon his life's journey. It has made man a wanderer. It is necessary for today's man to be at one place in the morning, another place in the afternoon and yet another place at night. Some are even changing countries.
A tree lives entrenched at one place. If you move it from one place, it will not live unless you plant it at another place. There are trees that will not survive after being transplanted. An animal can live even as it moves. It can live only within a limit, that is in a particular situation. If you take it anywhere, it will live only if you artificially create that condition. Man too is like that. But man is able to adjust to new situations quicker than animals. Even today, the farmer from the village becoming totally confused in an urban environment is an everyday sight. He has no other thought than of going back home from the moment he arrives. But unlike an animal, he himself is able to create an environment wherever he wants, according to his needs. He is able to get along in the new situations. That means, slowly but surely, he has been able to overcome the effects of the situation and live. Slowly but surely, the effects the situations have over man are being destroyed. From now on, there is no need for man's roots to remain at one place. There is no need for him to tie himself to some physical space for his living. He can fill himself with air and live in air.
In this new way of life, he is faced with many dangers and difficulties. There is no doubt about it. But isn't it only when he has had to face danger now and again that man has discovered many new things? When creativity in man shows its force. When man becomes God.
For this, man's spiritual life must become intense. Material life must only be a source for the progress of spiritual life. However much we may profess now, material life alone is important to us. Not just important, we are restraining the spiritual outburst for the sake of material life. Not just withholding it, we are forcefully turning it for the purposes of material life. Therefore, he becomes a clever man, one who practises dual roles, one who is merciless, one who kicks out ethical and spiritual values.
Spiritual life will usher in new strengths and new values. Man's material life must aid and encourage these. For this, the body must give up its physical state. It must thin down as much as possible. It must be possible for it to act as sharp as a knife in the hands of the mind.
The mind in this state will gradually conquer itself and must be able to initiate man on to this new stage. It must be able to provide a helping hand in the formation of the superhuman power. In this process, man will be able to protect his identity under any circumstance or under any influence. He will be able to obtain all the influences and situations within himself. He will be able to create a divine life.
The objective of this novel is to put forth this need.
Before I end this introduction, it is necessary to say one more thing about this book. It is about the mode of writing I have followed in this book. This mode of writing is not new. But I think it is better for me to say a word about it initially.
In this, the story-teller begins to tell the story. But he does not tell the entire story himself. In between, the characters in the novel narrate a few incidents. The narrator feels he cannot narrate some incidents in the story and he requests the characters to narrate them. According to his wish, the characters themselves describe some of the incidents that happened to them.
I submit that I have not used this mode without reason. If the narrator narrates the story, then the story will be told only from one perspective. I used this mode because I felt that the story in the novel had to be told from different perspectives. In life, a few incidents occur. Some of them are very personal. Rather than the narrator, who is other than the one affected by the incidents, saying, "This happened to a certain individual," it is proper and natural for the one who has experienced it to say, "This happened to me." This way it will strike directly the hearts of those who hear it. The intensity of the effect of that incident will be still fresh in their minds and it will also move the hearts of those who listen. With this intention, I have used this mode in the novel. I hope that this mode will please the readers.
I acknowledge my gratitude to the respected and kind hearted Nayani Subbaraogaru who read this book and expressed his admiration.
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